Jake and Jester are 11 and 12 year old Percheron/Thoroughbreds that have been members of the Lexington Mounted Police Force since 2002. By a stroke of luck they were on duty at my local park today and stopped to chat, but sadly due to a technical mishap (groan!) I can't seem to get the video I took on to Youtube. This just means I will have to do a more thorough interview at a later date - hurray! I remember admiring these two fine fellows at the WEG last year.
It's 'goodbye New Bolton, hello home' for Min
There is very good news from Pennsylvania as Neville and Minotaure du Passoir are being released from the New Bolton Equine Hospital today. This means that four of the five surviving horses have been released from the hospital in the first week which is truly miraculous. Caitlin Silliman's Catch A Star has been showing signs of colic off and on so she will stay for continued observation.
Boyd told the Chronicle that the New Bolton vets are shocked by Neville's recovery--that's one tough horse. The rarity of dealing with smoke inhalation cases makes a full prognosis and pace of recovery hard to gauge for the horses, but being released so soon is a great sign. Ambassador's Rose, who was released last Wednesday, has returned to work, but Neville, Min, and Otis will be on stall rest for the next few weeks to keep them from breathing heavily.
The stories of generosity, strength, kinship, and recovery continue to pour out of True Prospect. This afternoon, I'm very happy to tell several of those stories to Eventing Nation.
A few weeks ago, Boyd looked at a 4 year old for sale at Phyllis Dawson's Windchase farm. He loved the horse and when he left he told Phyllis that he would work on putting together a syndicate. A few days later at a clinic in New York Boyd mentioned to Bonnie Stedt that he had found a really nice horse in VA. Then the fire happened.
Just a few days after Bonnie lost the beautiful Cagney Herself in the fire, she rembered what Boyd had said. Bonnie contacted Phyllis and arranged to buy the horse for Boyd to ride. But, she kept the purchase a secret from Boyd. Then on Sunday at Waredaca Boyd saw the horse on Phyllis' trailer and walked over to pat it, still completely in the dark. Phyllis walked the horse off and handed him the lead and said "this is a present from Bonnie." Boyd's groom and working students had been in on it, but it was a total surprise to Boyd.
An EN tipster told us about the story but I spoke to Boyd about it this afternoon. He told me that the horse is 25% Irish, 75% TB and will be named Quinn Himself. The moment he received Quinn was a big turning point for Boyd: "I thought to myself 'OK, it's time to get on with it.'"
The good news also continues to come out of New Bolton, where all three of the remaining horses are recovering. Boyd said that the vets are optimistic that they will be releasing both Min and Neville soon.
It also seems as though Boyd has a new owner--Katie Prudent, show jumping legend and the US eventing team's show jumping coach. Katie called Boyd up a few days ago and, as he put it "gave a good tough motivational speech." Then Katie told Boyd that she wanted to help with the recovery and that he needed to be riding as much as possible. She said that her contribution would be to send him one of her horses to ride and train at full rate for two months. As Boyd said "talk about a tough owner!" The horse arrived at Boyd's farm yesterday.
Lastly, the healing continued at True Prospect this morning when everyone from the disaster met in a group session with a counselor. Everyone spoke about the fire and the counselor's biggest point was that the tragedy doesn't define anyone--it's a terrible thing that happened, but it can't dictate the rest of anyone's life. Update: The counselor, Dr. Dick Johnson, is a parent at Mary and Olivia Dutton's school and he cleared his morning and donated his time to help everyone out. One of the many generous acts of kindness.
It's going to take years for the wounds from the fire to be fully healed and some wounds will probably never heal completely. But with the help and resolve of those in the eventing commnuity, the sun is shining a lot brighter in Pennsylvania today. Go Quinn Himself.
Chelan sent us this photo and I want to give a big Eventing Nation welcome to eventing for Aleyna, age 8, and Tuffy, who is 11 hands. Alayna is the younger sister of one of Chelan's students and participated in her first 'event' last weekend. She did her dressage test from memory. She had a couple of 'do overs' in SJ, rocked the XC, and Chelan tells me she is officially hooked. Aleyna competed at the Golden Ears Pony Club schooling event in Maple Ridge, BC. Aleyna's Mom Joanne said that Aleyna asked 30 plus times about the riding before she let her do it, just to make sure she really wanted to, which I think all eventing parents can relate to. Go pony eventing.
As I sit here in my home in Australia, I reflect on one of the saddest weeks I have ever experienced in our sport. Some of the stories I have read have left me crying like a baby, others have taken my breath away with tales of courage, heartbreak, terror and stoicism.
At the same time, I take heart in the strength, support and unwavering community spirit that pervades both the Eventing and Equestrian communities. Before the smoke had died out in Pennsylvania, help, shoulders to lean on and money started flowing.
Boyd, Phillip and Ryan are all Aussie boys, but are very much integral in the US Eventing community. While the focus is on Boyd and Phillip in particular, those directly involved are each affected, all have stories to tell and all need shoulders to cry on. The effects of this tragedy have been felt globally.
For a horse lover, there can be no worse situation, fire is horrible. I am surprised and grateful that no human lives were lost, while the lives of those involved have been irrevocably changed forever.
One of the ironies to emerge from this terrible event is that the team of True Prospect Farm will be stronger, tighter knit and harder to beat. I have no doubt that the bonds already formed at TPF before the fire have now been forged on the hardest anvil.
But quite aside from the strength and spirit that has emerged from within TPF, the worldwide Eventing community has sprung into action. Although part of this support is due to the fact that Boyd's career has spanned two continents in the last decade, I do believe that a similar level of support would be delivered to any Eventer suffering a similar fate.
Time and time again, when something goes wrong in our sport; peers, family, owners, fans and horse lovers step up to the plate to assist. Our sport is based on volunteerism, the spirit of all-in, giving time to run events and dedicating selflessly to the pursuit of gold medals.
As the dust settles we as a community will need to continue to support everyone involved, riders, grooms, owners, friends and family. Our role is of critical importance to the recovery, so when you can, give a hug, a note of support or have a cold beer with someone affected by the TPF fire.
If you have ever met Neville Bardos, and looked him in the eye, he has crazy eyes, a bit like Boyd when he's focused. If a horse can recover from such a fire, then Neville will. I can only imagine the look in Boyd's eyes when he was told Neville was still in the stable and rushed in after him.
Yours in Eventing
Neville and his favorite pastime
This has without question been one of the hardest weeks I can remember for the eventing community. Despite all of the tragedy, Boyd told me today that everyone at True Prospect is coping with the tragedy in their own way but universally with amazing poise. Our Abbie Golden asked to write a tribute about Phantom Pursuit this afternoon and, although I don't get emotional very often, it made me cry. One thing that continues to help spirits at True Prospect is that the recovering horses are doing remarkably well at the New Bolton Center.
Otis Barbotiere improved so much that he was released from New Bolton earlier today. Boyd told me that he expects Minotaure du Passoir to be released on Monday, meaning that 3 of the 5 recovering horses will be out of the hospital (Ambassador's Rose was released Wednesday).
Neville is making amazing progress and the vets have taken him off of the breathing tubes for a bit today to let his lungs breathe on their own. Scopes of his throat look better and better and Boyd told me that the New Bolton vets say he is making a remarkable recovery. The first thing Neville did when the tubes were taken out was return to his favorite past-time: wind sucking (cribbing), as the picture shows.
Catch a Star is also looking better and better, despite a small colic scare yesterday, and Boyd said that both she and Minotaure du Passoir are in good spirits, along with Neville.
The fire marshalls and investigators are combing through the ashes today and interviewing everyone at True Prospect to try and figure out what started the fire, but the unofficial thought continues to be an electrical fire.
Boyd said that everyone is slowly getting back into a program and the happiest part of his days now is the time he spends riding because of the welcome distraction it provides. The fire took 11 horses out of the program and it sounds like the down time is hard to fill for everyone.
Boyd said that everyone will make their own decision about when to return to competition, but that Phillip suggested that showing solidarity and riding a few young horses together at Waredaca this weekend might do everyone a lot of good. So, we will likely see at least a few members of the team out having a ride in Maryland this weekend.
Boyd was very thankful about the continuing outpouring of support from the eventing community all over the world. Friends of True Prospect from all over have traveled to the farm to help out in any way possible. For the rest of us, donations through the non-profit funds such as AHTF and SCES to help replace the countless items of tack, horse care materials, furniture and food from the burnt apartment, and everything else that was lost continues the be the best way to support the recovery from afar.
A view from Heather Morris' truck as Team Express arrived in New Jersey for Jresey Fresh this weekend, presented by freshness. As Heather said, after a two day drive from Texas it was great to see this.
Go to New Jersey.
In this, our second annual Mothers Day post, we will again showcase members of the eventing community and how their mothers have shaped their lives. There's no doubt that eventing would never exist without moms. From those early mornings at horse shows, to those late weekday nights at lessons, moms guide us through the most challenging times in eventing with poise and never ending patience. As part of celebrating eventing moms today, we asked a few eventers to tell us about what their mothers have meant to them:
--"To the two mothers in my life( my own and my childrens), I want to send my love and gratitude today. While the reasons are numerous outside of eventing, John asked that we might try to stay within that context and I will try to oblige.
My mother was certainly one of my first supporters in eventing, and could be seen braiding late nights on many occasions early on. I say late because she got lost on the way to every horse show she ever attended, then she would promptly lose her keys. Somehow through this adversity she kept coming back, and has worn many hats. Contributing everything from grooming, nanning, and owning some top horses (SS Jett). Most of all she is a great friend and wonderful support when things go wrong. Thank you mom. I love you and couldn't have made it here (wherever this is) without you!
Nathalie, my wife and mother of our children, also deserves a special mention on mothers day. Many people have asked me lately how I do everything I do. I have given several responses, but I think the real reason is Nat. This includes eventing, but extends well beyond, and I cannot imagine how I could do any of it without her. She has given me horses, listened to my complaining, groomed, tried to teach me to do dressage, made our schedules, done our entries, and on, and on, and on. I don't know where I would be without her, but I'm sure glad I'm not there. Happy mothers day!
--"With less than a month to go until my due date of June 4th, I find myself anxiously counting down the days left. While I am more than ready to have my body back, ride again, and go for a run, I am over the moon with the thought of seeing Hailey for the first time! It has always felt like with the horses, I was their mom. My job has been to pick out their clothes, feed them properly, call the vet when needed, make sure they had proper shoes, and aid in the education process. Now with Hailey arriving around the corner, those jobs will carry over to her too, but on a much different level.
Whether she wants to ride or not, horses will be a part of her life in some way through me. I just hope they can teach her the same wonderful things they have taught me over my 38 years. That is dedication, perseverance, hard work, and true meaning of commitment. If she decides to ride, I hope one day she can experience that amazing feeling of when it all comes together, after that disappointing feeling of when it doesn't. I hope she can truly know what the "first ride" feels like after a year of caring for a sick or injured horse. I hope she can feel the joy of leading a victory gallop after a grueling weekend of putting it all together. And what I hope for the most is she carries the life lessons horses give us into the real world and into real relationships. These experiences and lessons are more important than any year end award, ribbon, or championship. I am so excited for this new journey of motherhood, and happy Mother's Day to all!
Brian Sabo--USEA President:
--"My mother Kitty Sabo was about as focused on winning as a person could be. Competitive and hard working she became completely dedicated to whatever she set her mind to. Her story was an amazing one as she left home in New York at 16 with her 14 year old sister to dance professionally in many acts in vaudeville shows post depression. Landing in Hollywood she became part of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans road show as they traveled the country before Roy became a TV and movie star. As a wedding present Roy and Dale gave a retiring "Trigger" to my mom and dad and her passion for horses was ignited. Kitty hunted for years with the West Hills Hunt where she met and became friends with Ronald Reagan. Years later when my interest in riding grew Kitty developed a friendship with a very young Hilda Gurney who lived near our home and together they founded the Woodland Hills Pony Club. As our D.C. Kitty was the driving force behind our club and the push with Hilda to involve all 6 of our members in the sport of Eventing. The club grew to many members and eventing, dressage and vaulting were all part of the program. For my mom I learned the value of volunteering, the skill of working with others and of course that Eventing ROCKS! I miss her today on Mother's Day but her passion for horses lives on in many other riders and trainers that were born at the Woodland Hills P.C.
--"As the loving son of an enthusiastic, determined speed skating mother from Springfield Illinois, I was reminded as a wild young boy growing up: "I brought you into this world.... and I can take you out of it!!" -- Happy mothers day mum!! ~Boyd
Sara Ike--USEF's Managing Director of Eventing:
--"Horses are in my blood thanks to both parents, but most significantly my mom. Growing up after school, my sister and I would catch our ponies from the field and our 4:30pm lesson would start. It was guaranteed that once a year, mom and I would have at least one fight during a lesson and she would walk out of the ring. Every time, it ended with me seeing the error of my ways, and begging her to teach me; to continue the lesson. "I promise I'll be a student, not the daughter." And that was how we did things. When we were in a lesson, I was the student. She was the teacher. I did as I was told.
In the horse world, I was always known as "Sally Ike's daughter" and I desperately wanted my own identity. So, I pushed away horses for several years, even worked as a geologist, but the pull of horses nagged at me. Now, in my adult life, I'm still learning from her. She has forgotten more about Eventing than I will ever know. She is a wealth of knowledge, the likes of Jimmy Wofford, but she's always been behind the scenes. Oh the stories she could tell! Her days timber racing against Carol Davidson to competing at Burghley '67 and Badminton '68, to the final preparations for Mexico City.
Nowadays, I'm thankful for the student/teacher dynamic. On a daily basis, she is a huge resource and sounding board for me. When I started in Eventingland in 2007, I always knew her door was open and I could ask a stupid question - to which she would patiently answer for me. As much as I want to have my own identity in Eventingland, I'm proud to be "Sally Ike's daughter." Happy Mother's Day!
--"Eventing mums are the best. I can hear my mum in the crowd no matter where I am. Hong Kong for instance, a crowd of thousands on dressage day and when I finished my test I heard her famous whistle and waved in her direction. People back home watching heard it on tv and cheered wildly. It's always good to know she's there and I don't do four stars without my mum/coach/manager/business partner/sponsor. She has the experience that I learn from and I have met some of the best riders in the world through her. When I am in Florida I miss my mum because there's no one else like her to share the horse experience with. We enjoy talking about horses, farms, fields, dogs, shows, training tips anything from A-Z that relates to this horse life we have chosen for ourselves. I feel lucky to have my mum to share some of my greatest moments in life and I'm REALLY glad she's there when they are some of my worst. So cheers to eventing mums all over the world. Love you mum xoxo
The great thing about Rolex is that it brings eventing fans from all walks of life and every part of the country together to enjoy eventing. One of those eager horse-lovers in the crowd this year was Hannah Hicks. It was Hannah's first year visiting Rolex and she arrived on Wednesday just in time for the tornado warnings no less. Hannah's trip was sponsored by the Make a Wish Foundation.
Hannah is 16 years old and has Sarcoma, a type of cancer caused by transformed connective tissues. Hannah loves to ride and work with horses (particularly thoroughbreds), but unfortunately can't own or ride a horse at the moment due to the fact that her treatments cause her bones to be too brittle.
The Make a Wish Foundation partnered with Rolex and eventing business owners, including John Nunn, to help make Hannah's Rolex experience memorable and give her a leg up on returning to riding.
For some of us, our biggest dream is to be like Mary King and take that victory lap around Rolex. For others of us, life takes some twists and turns an all of a sudden our thoughts become much more immediate. Thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation for everything they do to help dreams come true, and we wish Hannah the best and a speedy recovery.